Randy Mamola: The two sides of Valentino Rossi


In his first exclusive column for Motorsport.com, Randy Mamola looks at the performances - both on and off the track - of Valentino Rossi, and wonders if Yamaha can afford to have both him and Jorge Lorenzo in the long run.

After the weekend that we lived in Qatar for the start of the championship, I see no better way to debut this column than by speaking about Valentino Rossi's contract extension with Yamaha.

In these columns I will always try to be honest with myself, and that sometimes will mean that I will share some reflections that not everybody will like. I'm saying this because I'm aware that the star of this column is the rider with the biggest following in the history of the sport, with everything that it implies. But let's break this down.

Valentino's achievements will probably never be matched by anyone, and I don't mean only his statistics, that is, his titles, victories and so on, but especially what he has achieved over the past two seasons.

And that is something that his opponents recognise openly. That someone who is 37 and with his record is capable of finding enough motivation to reinvent himself and fight against much younger riders than him, and even beat them on track, is something that must be inspiring for everybody.

We saw it in 2015, a season where Rossi planned from the first to the last grand prix perfectly. Throughout those nine months he worked on his options of taking his 10th crown, one that would have been one of the most special for him.

This winter I was at Phillip Island for the second pre-season test and there was something that caught my attention: I had never seen Rossi push so hard during the build-up to the season.

And last Sunday, seeing him finish less than three seconds of the winner in a race that was seven seconds faster than last year's is something remarkable. I don't want to be nagging, but the age aspect is not an irrelevant question here.

However, the past weekend not only offered the best values that motorcycling racing carries in its DNA, as we could also see some of the worst, an echo of everything that we lived in the final part of last season.

We saw Valentino say that Jorge is not brave enough to sign for Ducati. Later, we saw the war of words between them and they even had a clash on track during the final practice session.

If we are in this situation in the first grand prix, I don't want to imagine how high the tension will rise as the season progresses. If Jorge finally renews with Yamaha it will be impossible for that level of tension to be sustainable for three years.

And especially in the current situation, in which the friction will be permanent because of how closely matched the three top manufacturers are.

It is obvious that Rossi has more fans on his side than anyone, but I don't think it's good for the sport to live things like what we saw in Qatar, both on the track and on the podium, where Marc and Jorge were booed after such an incredible race. I felt shame and I would like to think that Valentino felt it too.

I'm scared to think what's next, I don't even want to imagine it. We've seen it in football but this, gentlemen, is a different thing.

I don't dream that Marc, Jorge and Vale will shake hands and become friends overnight, something that I've seen before with Rainey and Schwantz, two guys who hated each other and who are great friends now. The only thing that I want is for someone to do something and bring some sanity into all this.

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Event Qatar GP
Track Losail International Circuit
Drivers Valentino Rossi
Article type Commentary